Healthy Southwest Spice Blend +Nightshade Free Options

Healthy Southwest spice blend by The Healthy RD

Making your own Southwest spice blend has several advantages over buying pre-made spice seasoning mixes. 

Talk about easy!

It also only takes a few minutes of time once you have your ingredients on hand at home.  Here are the benefits of making your own spice blend:

  • The flavors can be tailored to your preferences
  • Cost is lower if you buy the spices in bulk
  • Fresher taste
  • Healthy compared to store mixes
  • Free of additives
  • More antioxidants

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How to use your Southwest spice blend

You can use this spice mix in a lot of food options like tacos, nachos, and soups, sprinkled on eggs, mixed into dips, slow-cooked meats, chicken dishes, and vegetables, and sprinkled on sauteed potatoes.  

In recipes, appetizers often call for Southwest seasoning too. 

Just keep a jar of this on hand and you can use it for any recipe your heart desires. 

Making a Southwest spice blend

This blend is delicious and versatile. 

Keep in mind, that some people have nightshade allergies or sensitivities.  In this case, I give you a simple variation on how to make a spice blend without allergens too. 

Nightshade free version: 

To make a nightshade-free Southwest mix, simply omit:

  • cayenne pepper 
  • chili powder
  • chili flakes 
  • paprika if your recipe calls for it. 

Black pepper is not nightshade so you can add more to spice up your recipe if desired.

I added in dried annatto powder to give an extra flavor that might be missing when you leave out nightshade spices.

What is annatto?

Annatto is a reddish-orange seed that grows in Mexico and Central America. It comes from the achiote tree and I find it a bit tangy, sweet, and smoky in taste.

Optional ingredients

I also opt to add a lot of fresh cilantro with this spice blend at the table.  Cilantro helps improve any Southwest dish and it is especially helpful if you need to eliminate nightshades.

Here is how to make this easy spice mix today both ways.


It’s a good idea to have a mortar and pestle like this or a spice grinder like this to help you get coarsely ground spices.

Finely ground spices lose their flavor more quickly than coarsely ground ones!

You will also need:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Tablespoons
  • Funnel
  • Spice jar
Print Recipe
5 from 7 votes

Southwest Spice Blend (with Nightshade Free Option)

This fresh blend of spices is a great addition to almost any appetizer or main dish.
Prep Time4 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Southwest
Servings: 15


  • Spice jar
  • measuring spoons
  • Funnel


  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp coriander I prefer grinding my own so it is fresh
  • 1 tbsp cumin I prefer grinding my own so it is fresh
  • 1 tsp salt preferably Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper Freshly ground is best
  • 1 tsp ground annatto seed powder ok to leave out if you can't find it
  • 2 tbsp chili powder omit if you need nightshade free
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne omit if you need nightshade free
  • 1 tbsp paprika omit if you need nightshade free


  • Grind your spices in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, including coriander, cumin and black pepper. I like to coarsely grind the spices to leave some texture in the blend and bigger flavor bursts.
  • Combine all spices in your spice jar and place lid on tightly.
  • *leave out the chili powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper for a nightshade free version. You can increase the amount of annatto powder and black pepper in this case to give more flavor and color.
  • Store in a dark cupboard until ready to use

I decided long ago that it wasn’t acceptable to buy seasoning packets for recipes.

They have unwanted preservatives and fillers.

Perhaps more importantly, I wanted to tailor spice mixtures to pack a strong flavor punch with big health benefits.

Spices with benefits.  

Often people don’t think of spices for health, but I’m here to tell you it can make a huge difference in your vitality.

Here are some benefits of using spices that are included in this recipe.

Health Benefits of Black Pepper

Here is a fact that might stun you.

Black pepper enhances the absorption of most vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and other herbs.

It can enhance absorption of nutrients between 20-35%.

The implications of this for keeping you healthy are huge.

Even more mind-bending is the fact that when you combine black pepper with cumin, it further enhances the absorption of nutrients and herbs.

It is almost as if the combination was divinely created.

Tips for using black pepper

One caution: if you take prescription medicine, you may want to check in with your doctor before doubling down on your spice additions.

Pepper can enhance the uptake and availability of some drugs too.

Many other spices besides black pepper can increase the bioavailability of medications, truth be known.

In my opinion, this underscores the huge power they hold for our health.  They are under-used and don’t get enough credit.

Cumin may speed up metabolism

Cumin is no stranger to its potential for making you healthy.

The benefits of cumin for weight loss are due to its antioxidant effects, which help the mitochondria function better.  Cumin in one study worked as well as Orlistat, which is a drug used for weight loss.

Antioxidant-rich cumin may improve insulin levels too.

As far as spices go, cumin shines because cumin also may help reduce cancer risk.

Early studies show that cumin benefits the body by increasing cancer cell death and may also reduce the spread of malignant cancer.

Immune boosting oregano

If oregano was an athlete, it would have a cocky strut.

Using Oregano may have broad-spectrum antibacterial activities, including the ability to likely kill Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, also known as MRSA.

Bear in mind, that these studies are somewhat preliminary.  But we spend millions upon millions of dollars and still lose lives to this terrible infection. Oregano may help reduce the chances of getting an infection in the first place.

Oregano essential oil also has anti-fungal effects.

If only the pharmaceutical industry would swoop in and pay for marketing and further research on this.

I don’t see that happening.

Do you think you can patent and make much money off of nature?

I didn’t think so either.

Garlic benefits

Garlic is no shy bystander either.  At least 25 studies have found a reduced risk of cancer-related to garlic intake.

  • Eating garlic may reduce cancer growth.
  • Garlic also has potent antimicrobial properties.
  • Immune-enhancing effects
  • Heart protective effects especially when eaten raw.
  • Helps remove harmful heavy metals and toxins from the body.

It is no surprise that garlic is a good addition to just about any recipe, so keep on adding it wherever you can.

Cilantro for detox

Fresh cilantro, thrown in many dishes at the end, adds an incredibly fresh feeling to many dishes and also is great to help the body with heavy metal detox and toxins.

Early research also suggests that cilantro may be helpful in reducing anxiety symptoms.

The benefits extend to many other aspects of your health as you might imagine. The seed itself is one of my favorite flavors: coriander.

Coriander is so versatile, it can be added to any style of food.   My take?  The more you add, the better it is for you.

Annatto benefits

Annatto stands out because it is very high in an antioxidant called tocotrienol, a form of vitamin E that is related to healthy brain function.

Rich in carotenoids, annatto is also good for immune function.

This pigment-rich spice is good for heart health as well.  People with the highest tocotrienol intake have reduced age-related heart issues.

Chili peppers reduce pain

The addition of chili provides far-reaching health benefits.   They may help improve insulin levels, potentially by helping aid weight loss and fat-burning.

Red chili peppers may help prevent gastric ulcers, reduce the odds of gallstone formation, provide pain relief, and reduce inflammation.

Chili peppers also may help reduce cancer risk and heart disease risk.

As with anything, if you know you can’t tolerate high heat, choose mild peppers.

But maybe the reason you haven’t been able to tolerate heat from peppers is that, well, you haven’t eaten them frequently enough to develop tolerance.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

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